WELCOME TO THE OFFICIAL RICHARD E GERSTEIN JUSTICE BUILDING BLOG. THIS BLOG IS DEDICATED TO JUSTICE BUILDING RUMOR, HUMOR, AND A DISCUSSION ABOUT AND BETWEEN THE JUDGES, LAWYERS AND THE DEDICATED SUPPORT STAFF, CLERKS, COURT REPORTERS, AND CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS WHO LABOR IN THE WORLD OF MIAMI'S CRIMINAL JUSTICE. POST YOUR COMMENTS, OR SEND RUMPOLE A PRIVATE EMAIL AT HOWARDROARK21@GMAIL.COM

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Steve Chaykin dies in accident.

RUMPOLE UPDATE: The federal blog has the details of the untimely death of attorney Steve Chaykin who died in Colorado rescuing his wife who slipped and fell into a stream during a hike. The title of the post links to the Herald's story. David Markus's blog also has articles from the Colorado papers. 

THE CAPTAIN REPORTS
:


ELECTION UPDATE .....

Welcome to our ninth and final report in a series of reviews of the contested judicial races. Over the past two plus months we have attempted to introduce you to the 19 candidates that are running for the nine contested judicial seats in Miami-Dade County.


In Week One, we focused on the only contested County Court race of Lindsay v. Lesperance. Since then, we have provided you with the Circuit Court races of Cueto v. Velis; Migna v. Manny; Colodny v. Kopco v. Millan; Garcia v. Glick; Corona v. Cynamon; Caballero v. Chumbley; and Cohen v. Cuellar.

Today we cover the ninth and final race in Group 57 between incumbent Judge Bernard Shapiro and his opponent Denise Martinez-Scanziani.



DENISE MARTINEZ-SCANZIANI .....

Ms. Scanziani has been a member of The Florida Bar since May of 2000. She graduated from the University of Florida School of Law and began practicing as a Staff Attorney for Legal Aid of Broward County. Soon after, she opened up her own private practice and she now handles family law, real estate and probate matters.

Ms. Scanziani is 33 years old and if my recollection serves me correctly, she would be just slightly older that the youngest ever Circuit Court Judge in our County, Judge Thomas E. Scott, (who went on to become a Federal District Court Judge and was also the US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida for a three year stint).

Many of the regular readers of this BLOG know that I hit Ms. Scanziani pretty hard on February 23, 2008 with a piece that I ran about her campaign. I will not provide you with the laundry list of details, but I feel that I must recap the history that caused me to write such a strong article.

On February 15, 2008, Ms. "Denise Scanziani" filed papers to run in County Court Group 34, which was Judge Sarduy's seat. The only problem with that was the seat was not open as a result of the JNC conducting interviews to replace Judge Sarduy, (who had been named to the Circuit Court bench). On February 20th, Ms. "Denise Martinez-Scanziani" filed new papers. This time she filed to run in Group 17 of the County Court against incumbent Judge Eric Hendon. (It was the name change that drew all the attention).

Finally, on May 2, 2008, at approximately 11:59 AM, (the deadline for qualifying was NOON that day), Ms. Martinez-Scanziani, switched again and filed against Judge Shapiro.

If you missed all of the fireworks, I would direct you to read the front page pieces by The Captain on Feb. 23 and Ms. Scanziani's reply on March 2 and the more than 135 comments written by our readers, (including my rebuttal that was posted on March 3rd at 6:42 pm).

As for raising money, Ms. Scanziani has a lot of catching up to do. To date, she has raised only $7,289 from 35 donors. She has added $2,000 of her own money into the kitty.

Check out Denise at deniseforjudge.com.


JUDGE BERNARD SHAPIRO (i) ....

Judge Shapiro has been a member of The Florida Bar since 1973. He graduated from the University of Miami School of Law. He first ascended to the County Court bench in 1987 and in 1990 voters elected him to the Circuit Court where he still sits 18 years later. In between, he was reelected in 1996 and in 2002. He has never faced opposition in any of his races for judge.

Judge Shapiro sits in the Family Division and has also been assigned in the past to the General Jurisdiction and Criminal Divisions. He began his career as a jurist handling DUI and traffic cases and then moved into general misdemeanors and civil cases. Prior to becoming a judge, Shapiro was in private practice for 14 years first trying PI and work comp cases and then handling family law matters.

Judge Shapiro is far ahead in the fundraising department having pulled in $94,789 from 384 contributors. He has also kicked in $25,200 of his own money.

Judge Shapiro's website can be found at voteforshapiro.com. (UPDATED)

Please do your homework on the two candidates. Help out our readers by giving us your comments, pro and con, on each of the candidates.

It has been a pleasure to provide our readers with this weekly series over the past couple of months. I must congratulate our readers for providing mostly positive input as to who they feel are the most qualified candidates for these nine seats. At times, the debate got a bit raucous, but all in all I think it was a positive exercise in the way a BLOG can be useful to our profession. I hope that you learned some new information along the way about the candidates (certainly a lot more than you would have garnered from those weak Herald endorsement pieces), and I hope that we helped you form a decision on whom you may end up casting your ballots for at election time. If we did, then we did good.

Rump has been nice enough to give me the vine and I have tried to use it fairly and, without taking sides, just present the facts ala Joe Friday.

Look forward to seeing you on Election Day with those real-time returns.

The election takes place on Tuesday, August 26, 2008.

CAPTAIN OUT .........

Monday, July 28, 2008

1000+

Very quietly last week we posted our 1000th blog post.
It seems a bit surprising that we have sat down at various computers over the years almost a thousand times (we've had a few guests and the Captain contributes regularly) to write, mostly about our little world.

For me personally, the blog has meant a few things:
It has taken more of my time than I ever imagined. It has caused me to feel a certain weight of responsibility as I realized over time that people I knew and liked were reading things that sometimes bothered them. And at times I have made some very bad mistakes. But I know I have learned from them, and I hope my apologies were accepted in the spirit they were given.

But mostly it has been a joy. Wonderful things have been written by others on this blog, and it has contributed in a small way to creating a better sense of community in our courthouse.

Personally, it has made me a far better writer.

I can remember the very first time I sat at a table of lawyers and judges and heard someone mention that they laughed when they read something I wrote on the blog. That was an almost indescribable feeling- much like when I won my first jury trial.

So thank you for reading. I work as hard as I can to make this a fair and open forum for discussion about our courthouse. Not everyone is happy with what I do and the decisions I make. And in the end, much like those robed readers I enjoy poking every now and then, that must mean I'm doing a pretty good job.

See You In Court.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

ABE LAESER REMEMBERS KURT LYLE MARMAR

A few weeks ago there was a passing comment on the blog about a lawyer named Kurt Marmar. Mr. Marmar passed away in the 1980's. Mr. Abe Laeser responded with a comment about a Moot Court  award at the U of M Law School given in Mr. Marmar's name. We asked him to write a few words about Kurt Marmar and he responded with this:

Kurt Lyle Marmar

Rare is the person who does not fade from memory after their death. Kurt Marmar, who died in his mid-30’s in 1985, remains as a beacon – an example – of qualities seldom seen; therefore easily remembered.

Kurt graduated from law school in 1974, and unfortunately died a mere decade later. He loved the law in the way that the most histrionic law professor might want every pupil to love it. Short, stocky, muscular – not someone you might see as an intellectual; but it was the ability to do battle for a cause drove him. Kurt was the consummate champion – a warrior among lawyers.

It was not the ‘side’ that he was on that mattered. He saw the law in a very idealized way – a battle between right and wrong – which could be fought by any lawyer, in any position. Kurt carried the dual edged sword of all great lawyers into battle. He had the legal skills to study the law until he understood even its most hidden nuances; then he applied his natural common sense to deciding which course to follow in his attacks. Surprisingly, he was collegial in the extreme, and had very close friends (and those who learned under his tutelage) on both sides of the aisle.

What proof do I have of his unique traits? He had been in private appellate practice for only a few years before his death. Before that, he achieved a milestone that would be unthinkable today. Within only a few years of his graduation, he was the Chief of the Appellate Unit for the Office of the Public Defender. He then, rather amazingly, left that office and became the Chief of the Legal Unit for the Office of the State Attorney. He kept personal work hours that astounded others, and even rented an apartment at the Cedars of Lebanon complex (before they were medical offices) so that he could walk to work at any time. Professional differences in both offices caused him to ultimately leave government service. In private practice, many of his finest arguments were at the highest Federal levels. .

Personally, he was a friend with very few peers. He hated social events, yet showed up with a Chateau Lafitte Rothschild 1961 for the host’s ‘collection’. He loved food and drink, and to travel. We once took a week-long food holiday with other friends, and literally went from city to city in Florida to taste their best dining fare.

Unfortunately, he had some phobias. We once mistakenly convinced him to try the log flume ride at Busch Gardens. It had an initial short drop, which bothered him. My next recollection, as we chugged up to the booth toward the longer drop, was of Kurt opening his wallet and offering all of the cash – and he always carried a huge amount of money - if the attendant would stop the ride. He survived, never said a word as he went back to his room – and was so upset by the events that he flew back to Miami alone that night.

After his untimely death, his many friends created the Kurt Marmar Moot Court Award at the University of Miami School of Law. It is a most unusual annual award, as the school and the faculty have no say in the selection of the winner; which makes it especially coveted. The fellow members of the Moot Court competition decide upon the choice. The criterion is simple; it is given to the person who: In the opinion of his or her peers has demonstrated a spirit of cooperation and fairness. That is a standard that Kurt would have always wanted for those who would compete for an award in his name.

I miss my friend, and his kind
heart, and his fiery intellect. I will always remember Kurt.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

ELECTION UPDATE .....

Welcome to our eighth in a series. Over the past seven weeks, we have brought you seven of the nine contested races analyzing the judicial elections in Miami-Dade County. In Week One, we focused on the only contested County Court race of Lindsay v. Lesperance. Since then, we have provided you with the Circuit Court races of Cueto v. Velis; Migna v. Manny, Colodny v. Kopco v. Millan, Garcia v. Glick, Corona v. Cynamon and Caballero v. Chumbley.

As we reported on May 2, 2008 on this blog, there are nine contested races here in Miami-Dade County; eight in the Circuit Court and one in the County Court. Today we cover the race in Group 55 between incumbent Judge Geri Beth Cohen and her opponent Abbie Cuellar. Next week we will rap it up with the Bernard Shapiro race.


JERI BETH COHEN (i) .....

Judge Jeri Beth Cohen has been a member of The Florida Bar for 22 years. She educated herself at Boston U, Harvard, and earned her JD at Georgetown Law School. She was a practicing attorney from 1986-1992 when she was elected a County Court Judge. She spent four years on the bench, in the Criminal Division, and in 1996 she ran, unopposed, for a Circuit Court seat. She has spent the past 12 years in the Juvenile Division and the General Jurisdiction Division.

Judge Cohen has a long history of community involvement both off and on the bench. The list is long and I would direct you to her website to read all about her background. Of note, she began one of the first Dependency Drug Court programs in the country in 1999.

Judge Cohen has not avoided controversy while on the bench. While challenger Cuellar can actually claim being shot at (see below), Judge Cohen can only admit to shooting herself in the foot, a few times. There was the comment about Hispanics many years ago that first got her in trouble. This year, her campaign manager's secretary inadvertently sent out a campaign letter to several prominent attorneys; the letter included the names of several attorneys who had not in fact endorsed her. Then she showed up at the Coral Gables Democratic Club meeting and gave a speech. Only problem - that was a violation of Canon 7 of the Code of Judicial Conduct. She admitted the violation and apologized.

Judge Cohen has been in the news of late; she is the Judge on the City-County-Marlins v. Norman Braman lawsuit. By all accounts, she seems to be doing a great job given the very complicated legal issues and the public nature of the case.

All this publicity has not hurt her one bit in the fundraising category. She has blown away her competitor and The Captain is impressed with the 806 attorneys who have donated over $190,000 to her campaign. Judge Cohen has kicked in an additional $100k.

Check out Judge Cohen at judgejeribethcohen.com.


ABBIE CUELLAR ....

Ms. Cuellar has been a member of The Florida Bar for 11 years. She earned her legal degree from Rutgers Law School. She runs a solo practice with a concentration in Family law and Criminal law. She is also a Guardian Ad Litem Staff Attorney and has been very committed in that area.

Ms. Cuellar made the news in March when she was driving her Infiniti SUV and suddenly two men jumped out of a van and started shooting a hail of bullets at her windshield. She pulled a Starsky & Hutch reverse move and survived with cuts from the flying glass.

Ms. Cuellar, along with attorney Alan Mishael, represented real estate developer (and former sports agent) Joe Cubas and his wife last year in their unsuccessful effort to become the permanent guardians for a five year old Cuban girl. The Judge - Jeri Beth Cohen. It was the decisions of the Judge and the way she handled the case that motivated Cuellar to run against Cohen.

Cuellar reports raising no money as of her last filing. She did contribute $15,000 of her own money to the campaign.

You can check out abbieforjudge.com for the Cuellar campaign.

Please do your homework on the two candidates. Help out our readers by giving us your comments, pro and con, on each of the candidates.

The election takes place on Tuesday, August 26, 2008.

CAPTAIN OUT .........

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tricia Walsh Smith - The video that started it all!

The divorce case from hell. We've all heard about them. Well, this woman, who is divorcing her husband who is apparently well known Broadway producer, made a video about her husband and divorce and posted it on You-Tube. 3.2 million hits later, you can still watch her call her husband's secretary and complain that they had no sex, and yet she found a bottle of viagra and condoms. Enjoy, and be glad you're not on the receiving end of this angry Brit.

BROWEIRD

Longtime and careful readers of the blog know our deep and abiding affection if not outright love for the courthouse and its denizens north of the border. Not. 

Check out the post on the Broward Blog entitled "Broweird." (the title of the post links to the blog article) 

A statue of Florida Governor Napoleon Bonaparte Broward  stands in the hallway to the entrance to the new wing of the courthouse. Against this bronze behemoth  we have often banged our head in frustration having once again been "browarded" by a judge up there- be it having our client's bond revoked for getting a speeding ticket, or some other Broward nonsense. 

Now, posted on the Broward blog, comes word that ol' Napoleon Broward was....(steady now) an avowed racist.  

Broward judges want to send every client who comes before them to state prison. Napoleon Broward just wanted to send all African Americans to a colony purchased for them for the purposes of keeping the races pure and separate. Since most defendants  Broward Judges send to prison are African American, perhaps the statue is a good thing, as it appears Napoleon Bonaparte Broward is getting his wish, albeit a hundred or so years later than he wanted. 

Why are we not surprised that of all the possible persons significant in the history of Florida and this nation, that the powers that be  north of the border put a statute of a racist in their courthouse?

Of course they named the whole damn county after this racist, so why would anyone be surprised at anything that happens up there? 

See you in court, just not in certain courts, and now you know why. 

Monday, July 21, 2008

ANOTHER HOT MONDAY IN JULY

It's the middle of summer.
It's hot. 
It's boring. 

Somehow there are some robed readers who are left in this sweltering town who are actually trying cases. Great. Hot. Bored. And in trial. It's not a great combination. 

Meanwhile, the FINS TRADE JASON TAYLOR.
Goodbye Jason. No way  a dancing defensive end fits under the Big Tuna's Tent. This was destined to be. (The title of the post links to a Yahoo story on Taylor)

Blog quiz: This person just had a birthday. His name is infamously associated with this number: 46664.  Who is it? (Try and answer without using Google first.)

1000: Yup our 1000th post is fast approaching. Any ideas for the post? Beyond our customary snide comments reminding our favourite federal blogger how during our first month he confidently predicted to the media there would be no way we could stay anonymous, is there anything else you think we should say in this historic post?

See You In Court. Enjoy the week. 

Friday, July 18, 2008

LOCAL BOYZ MADE GOOD

In a seeming blast from a past,  a couple of Miami Cops were arrested on Thursday and appeared in Federal Court today before Magistrate Dube on charges they were involved with a gang that ran drugs and took bets. 

Rumpole says: What no food? What's a good bet without a little nosh?

The title links to the Herald story.

The officers are Michael King and Antonio Roberts. 

The lead defendant is a former corrections officer who goes by the nickname "cone head".   The Feds apparently said to some snitch "take me to your leader" and Mr. Marvin Coney was subsequently indicted. 

Of course, any state prosecutor will tell you that cops are not dirty and never ever lie. 

That's why the Feds have the case. 

Enjoy the weekend. 

See you in court Monday. 




Wednesday, July 16, 2008

COURAGE AND STRENGTH BEYOND ALL MEASURE

The following account is almost unbearably sad. And yet, it is a story of strength and courage and a life that would not be defeated. 


All nations have their important or tragic days seared into the national consciousness. April 22, 1979 is one of those days for Israelis


In the early morning hours of that day, Samir Kuntar, then 16 years of age, landed on a beach in Israel with three other members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.


The four men killed a policeman and then broke into an apartment. The events that ensued are tragic beyond all measure. They kidnapped a young Israeli man- Danny Haran, and his four year old son. They took them to a nearby beach and killed Mr. Haran in front of his son. Kuntar then killed the four year old boy by smashing his skull against a rock with the butt of his rifle.


While the terrorists were in the apartment, Samadar Hadan, the wife of Danny and mother of two young children, hid with her daughter. She accidentally smothered the two year old to death while trying to keep her quiet.


Samir Kuntar was captured and tried and convicted for murder and has remained in an Israeli prison ever since. He is a hero to Palestinian terrorists, and it is believed the hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship in 1985 was done to secure his release.


Now Israel has released Kuntar in exchange for the bodies of two dead Israeli soldiers being held by Hezbollah. Hezbollah carried out a 2006 raid into Israel kidnapping two  Israeli soldiers just to trade them for Kuntar. 


 Kuntar was released Wednesday night  and celebrated as a hero in Syria, all while the blood of a two year old and four year old child and their father, still drips from his hands. Like Macbeth, he is dammed to carry those blood spots through eternity. No amount of washing and no cheering crowds will wipe those stains from a soul dammed to eternal hell for his acts on this earth. 


Here is the story of survival and courage: Samadar Hadan, the lone survivor of this brutal and senseless attack,  eventually remarried and raised two daughters. She lives near the parents of one of the captured and now dead Israeli soldiers. When asked how she felt about Kuntar’s release, as recently reported in the NY Times, (the title to the post is linked to the article) this is what she had to say:


“Samir Kuntar is not my private prisoner, and we live in a country where there is a framework for making decisions,” she said, echoing what she wrote in a letter to the prime minister and the cabinet ahead of their decision to proceed with the deal. “I asked them not to think about my personal pain and to make decisions according to the interests of the state.”

Kuntar and Hezbollah are cowards. Killers of little children.  And yet, they have lost a battle they can never win. Samadar Hadan  has won. She survived and lived her life.  Hadan’s existence, her new family, her two daughters, all prove that despite Kuntar's release, he and Hezbollah have failed and can never ever win. Not when facing the strength and courage of Samadar Hadan.


Now if a bomb were mistakenly to fall on Kuntar’s head as he passed over the border to Syria, that would not be a bad thing either.



Tuesday, July 15, 2008

JAIL HI-JINKS

DOUBLE UPDATE BELOW WITH A COMMENT FROM DAVID S MARKUS
Update:

Anyone have the scoop on the fracas at the Dade County Jail?
(UPDATE- it was apparently TGK)
Protests.
Ms. Georgia Ayers.
Controversy and possible arrests.
(update: arrests were threatened but apparently not made.)

Rumours are flying, but alas we were not there.

Who was?

Update: Any public official who messes with Ms. Ayers should best remember the short judicial career of Henry Ferro. Of course when you point a gun at anyone in court from the bench, much less a family member of Ms. Ayer's, you get what's coming to you.

"A circuit judge pointed a gun at a defendant in open court?"
Oh yes dear new readers, this used to be quite the town in the day.
DAVID S MARKUS (not the guy who runs the federal fight blog) apparently represented the Defendant Judge Ferro took aim at and had this to say:
I was the defense attorney in the case where Judge Ferro stormed off the bench and pointed the gun at the head of the defendant's mom(I don't believe that she was related to Ms. Ayers-my fuzzy recollection was that she was hispanic).We were in the middle of a plea colloquy for boot camp and the defendant was showing a lot of "attitude". Judge Ferro was trying to impress upon the young armed-robbery defendant the magnitude of his actions. All of a sudden, the judge, robes flying, jumps up out of his chair, demands the gun from the clerk, and accosts the mom, who was seated in the audience. Everyone was shocked. Then he sat back down and finished the plea colloquy as if nothing unusual had happened. The guy was a real nutcase.
Rumpole says: That's what happens when you take a plea instead of going to trial.



Monday, July 14, 2008

HANLON/MCDUFFIE CONTINUED

Two sides to the Hanlon/McDuffie issue:

"Batman" wrote:

When did we become such an unforgiving society that we can not recognize a good man rising from the ashes of his wrongdoing? Why do we celebrate such a story in movies and written fiction and not in real life? We preach redemption to our children when we bring religion into their lives, yet we grant none to those who have earned it.

Those of us who were around in 1980 know what happened and the injustice of the acquittals that followed. Of all of the culpable parties, Hanlon was the only one who came forward and acknowledged his participation. The others denied everything and after being acquitted went on their merry way. To now punish the only remorseful and repentant one is unconscienceable.

For the Supreme Court to determine that Hanlon's acts were so egregious as to deny him entry now or at any time in the future is beyond hypocritical. Considering the attorneys who have been convicted of innumerable felonies not being disbarred, judges who have committed criminal acts and not removed from the bench and applicants who have shown no history of rehabilitation from their own criminal acts, this decision smacks of politics and pandering. Obviously those most aggrieved by Hanlon's conduct think better of him than those who don't know him at all.

And Abe Laeser responded:

Oh, you mean the Hanlon who came forward before the autopsy? The one who watched / helped / killed {your choice} and did the 'right thing' for HIMSELF. 

Yes, he was able to persuade Adorno and Yoss that they should grant immunity - before he had anything to disclose. Wise decision. 

No, not for the concept of Justice. No, not because he was motivated to go after killer cops. He cut the best deal for Hanlon. He knew that the stories that every one of the killers had spoken and put into reports were complete lies. They killed a man out of anger. He kept silent, denied his own actions, and now what?

I still have my memo outlining to Ms. Reno why I thought Hank + George were wrong. She decided otherwise. I voted to prosecute Vaverka and Hanlon first. But that was late in 1979 and nothing would have brought Arthur McDuffie back.

Do I appreciate that Hanlon has tried to lead an honorable life since? Certainly. But the stain has not faded. Can he become a cop again? Nor should he be an attorney.

I still foolishly believe we are an honorable calling -- that our honor and trust are our finest tools. Hanlon did what he had to do to save his skin. Please do not confuse that with honor and trust.



Rumpole says: Two valid view points. I guess the issue is whether you consider redemption and whether redemption is sufficient to earn a place in the Bar. You know, I think that if Hanlon had gone to medical school instead of law school he would not have any problem in becoming a licensed doctor. If we can trust someone to reach inside us to save our life, can't we trust someone enough to write a will, or do a closing, or a divorce? I think that being a police officer is a very tough job. There are pressures the average person cannot comprehend. What Hanlon did on that street that night was very was wrong, and what he has done since then apparently has all been very right. I'm willing to give him a second chance, but that is me, and I didn't prosecute the killers who killed McDuffie and I didn't have to deal with the pain of explaining to his family why they were acquitted and why my office made a deal with Hanlon. 



RANCK WATCH D-DAY

Todays the day. Does the SAO continue its reign of terror firing anyone and everyone who crosses the path of the administration?

Voice a concern about a police shooting? YOU'RE FIRED!!

Accept a toy for charity in court? YOU'RE FIRED!!!

Lie about why you were fired? YOU'RE REALLY REALLY FIRED!!!

Sexually harass women employees? please resign whenever you feel most comfortable doing so.
Let's see what happens today. 

THE CASE THAT MADE MIAMI BURN

Courtesy of the Broward Blog we post this link to a Tampa St Pete Times article on former Miami Police Officer Bill Hanlon.

Recognize the name? Most lawyers and Judges will not. But longtime residents of Miami and the REGJB will remember Hanlon as one of the Officers who participated in the arrest of Arthur McDuffie. McDuffie who was an African-American,  died during the arrest and 8 officers were arrested. Hanlon testified in a Tampa courtroom against the other officers  but that was not enough and the officers were acquitted. This followed a long and tortious trail of cases in Miami before the whole mess was moved to Tampa. 

After the acquittal, Miami burned, as riots tore through our town. 
The article has a picture of a National Guardsman standing in front of a burning car. That's right folks. For all you young people, there was a time in the not too distant past when the National Guard patrolled this town, as chaos reigned. 

Then the Columbian drug lords moved in and everything quieted down. 

Bill Hanlon has completed law school. For the last 25 years he has led a life that has been nearly perfect and dedicated to making amends for his mistake. Hanlon did not kill McDuffie. He passed a lie detector as to whether he hit McDuffie. What Hanlon did do was participate in the cover-up to protect the cops who beat McDuffie to death. The article raises important issues as to whether there are certain actions that ever prevent a person from becoming an attorney in Florida.

With his tireless work as a guardian ad litem and mentoring of disadvantaged children it appears to us Hanlon deserves the chance to work as an attorney in Florida. 

Check out the article HERE

Sunday, July 13, 2008

30 YEARS AT THE SUPREME COURT

NY TIMES Reporter Linda Greenhouse is retiring after covering the Supreme Court for 30 years, Click on the title of the post to read the article. 


PENNY BRILL WAS RIGHT!!!

That is the current  headline on David Ranck's blog. We never knew anyone said she was wrong. Indeed, much to our chagrin, whenever we are in court going against her she usually has the correct law supporting her proposition. 

In any event, some think this is important. So click on this link HERE
and read all about  the pathos, the internecine intrigue, and everything else SAO from an insider. 

For those of you out of the loop, Penny Brill is an ASA who works in the office's legal division. She's one of the ones who come to court and tell the judge the law that they should know, but obviously don't. (In fairness to our robed readers, it's awfully hard to read an FLW on a golf cart or at a table at the Forge.)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

RANCK WATCH

UPDATE: Check out the Broward Blog on the treatment given the wife of the Fort Lauderdale Chief of police. The better half of the Chief took a coupla shots at her hubby (can anyone say "10-20-Life" ?) and was able to get a first appearance and bond out in about 12 hours. Not even mentioning the fact that any other client would be held no bond on attempted murder with a firearm (the chief's sweetie was arrested for agg assault) the real question is how all of the sudden a circuit court judge was available to do the hearing, and how and why did the jail speed the "shooting spouse" through the booking process? Apparently when Judge Tobin promised "change in Broward" that included a secret expedited process for the wives of public officials.

The breaking story on our favourite blog north of the border is HERE

ASA David Ranck posted on his blog that he has been summoned to a meeting with among others, Don "The Hatchet" Horn in which he will be disciplined for his comments critical on the State Attorney's Office handling of a specific police shooting case and other police shooting cases in general.


We remember from the SAO's Christmas Eve Massacre that things could be worse for Mr. Ranck. He could be supporting a charity or he could lie about why he was fired. Longtime and careful readers will remember Mr. Horn's famous memo in which he informed a prosecutor he was being fired for inter alia, lying about why he was fired.
THREE MEMOS POST BY RUMPOLE


This was the third in a series of posts on the Christmas Eve Massacre at the SAO.
We haven't seen reasoning like that since Bush's justification for invading Iraq.




Click on the title of the post which link's to Mr. Ranck's blog. D-Day is Monday July 14, 2008 and H-Hour is sometime in the afternoon. (his blog has a typo error for the date, but it is probably this Monday, as "June 14th" has already passed. Is blogging about the wrong day Don Horn will fire you grounds for .....being fired? Maybe at 1350 NW 12th Avenue. )


Tequila and chips will be served at Mr. Ranck's office as his friends gather afterwards to help him pack. It's actually a crime to consume liquor on State property, but what the heck? What are they gonna do? Fire him?
THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

ELECTION UPDATE .....

Welcome to our seventh of nine weekly reports analyzing the contested judicial elections in Miami-Dade County. In Week One, we focused on the only contested County Court race of Lindsay v. Lesperance. Since then, we have provided you with the Circuit Court races of Cueto v. Velis; Migna v. Manny, Colodny v. Kopco v. Millan, Garcia v. Glick and Corona v. Cynamon.

As we reported on May 2, 2008 on this blog, there are nine contested races here in Miami-Dade County; eight in the Circuit Court and one in the County Court.

Our final three reports cover three Circuit Court races where an incumbent has a challenger: this week we cover the Chumbley race, next week Geri Cohen, and the final week we cover the Bernard Shapiro race.

Today, we cover Group 51, a seat currently held by Judge Douglas Chumbley.

MARCIA CABALLERO .....

Marcia has been a member of The Florida Bar for 19 years. She was a school teacher for three years before becoming an attorney. She filed to run in October of 2007 and has raised more than $21,000 from 108 contributors. Marcia has throw in another $50,000 of her own money.

Ms. Caballero graduated from Thurgood Marshall Law School at Texas Southern. Her practice primarily handles criminal defense and PI cases, but she also takes on family law, probate and real estate matters. She also donates her time as a Guardian ad Litem.

You can read all about Ms. Caballero on her website at caballeroforjudge.net.

DOUGLAS CHUMBLEY (i) ....

Judge Douglas Chumbley earned his present job when Governor Bush appointed him to the Circuit Court bench in June of 2006 to replace retiring Judge Fredricka Smith. He has spent the past two years sitting in the Juvenile Division. Prior to becoming a judge, Chumbley was in private practice for 24 years with three different firms; spending the last nine years with Carlton Fields.

Chumbley has been a member of The Florida Bar for 26 years and he graduated from Washington & Lee Law School.

As a siting Judge, Chumbley has been extremely successful in the fundraising department bringing in $68,651 from 332 contributors. He has also kicked in $100,000 of his own money to the campaign.

You can check out keepjudgechumbley.com for all the latest news on Judge Chumbley's campaign.

Please do your homework on the two candidates. Help out our readers by giving us your comments, pro and con, on each of the candidates.

The election takes place on Tuesday, August 26, 2008.

CAPTAIN OUT .........

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

GREGG WENZEL

Today marks 5 years since the death of Gregg Wenzel. Gregg started as an assistant public defender in '94 and then went to The Florida Bar as Bar Counsel.

He then was hired by the Foreign Service and based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he was killed by a drunk driver, who was tried in absentia, convicted and sentenced to one year in jail. He remains a fugitive.

Gregg was an avid swimmer, often showing up to the PD's office after a 6am swim in the ugliest gym clothes you can imagine, walking by all the other "suits" down the hall and changing at 8:50into one of the half a dozen suits he kept in his office. (His office door was always required to be closed when David Weed was coming by for various reasons).

There are many Gregg stories, his filing of demands for speedy trial in every single case when he was transferred to the jail division, his daily use of the "necessity" defense in DWLS trials (bringing about the joke that the east wing of DCJ was going to be renamed the "Gregg Wenzel necessity defense wing."),and the blowing up of his briefcase in the hallway of Jackson Towers by Metro Dade Bomb Squad because his beeper was vibrating and no one could determine whose briefcase it was or what was inside. (Gregg was in trial and unreachable as his pager was... in the briefcase). In true Gregg fashion, he was not apologetic about the commotion he caused, he was absolutely furious that his piece of crap briefcase was destroyed.

Gregg was also a ten-time marathon runner and finisher, and three-time Ironman finisher.

He lived life to the fullest, on his tombstone is the Abraham Lincoln quote "And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years."

Visit his memorial website at HERE
and keep him in your thoughts today.
Brian Tannebaum

Rumpole says: Very well said Brian. You are a good friend.

Captain: I took down your post when I saw this, and we'll put it up tomorrow, OK? Thanks.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Friend Of Rumpole

Um...uhh...hello. Friend Of Rumpole here. He is uh...indisposed at the moment. He can't post with any regularity at the moment. He gave me the password and asked me to post something. Since I really don't know anything about what you guys do here, this is really my best effort. 

So like uh consider this a summer hiatus. 

A brief respite. 

I can check and clear comments and Rumpole said you should talk among yourselves. 

Oh yeah. He also said something about someone who wears a robe will surely do something dumb and then I would have something to talk about. But I didn't really understand what he meant and he has been somewhat cryptic about this whole thing. So uhh  thanks for reading. And Rumpole will be back soon. Hopefully. 

PS. Oh yeah I remember something else: he said the people running for judges are starting to get on his nerves with their childish (yeah, he said to use that word: "childish") comments on the blog and that they should stop it right away or he would do something drastic when he gets back. Ok. That's it for now. See Ya. 

Monday, July 07, 2008

HERE COME DA JUDGES

Miami Herald article Sunday (new feature: the title of the post links to the article) catching up with what we all know:

That former Judges Marilyn Milian, David Young; Alex Ferrer; Cristina Pereyra- Shuminer and Karen Mills-Francis all have television shows where they play a Judge on TV.

Must be something in the water at the REGJB. Or the asbestos.

News flash for the Herald: Truman beats Dewey. Really.

Lets see. What else?

President Bush is going to China for the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. The largest communist country on earth is apparently not a sponsor of terrorism. Just oppression. Ask the Dali Lama.

John McCain's new plan to win the white house involves hiring a majority of Americans to actually work on his campaign.

There are rumours that Ford and GM are considering bankruptcy, and we live in a time when Starbucks has a larger market capitalization than GM. Astounding.
Here's the NY Times Article on Oil. We were warned since the gas lines of the 1970's about oil running out. And GM and Ford responded by building SUV's. Here's a neat fact: the next time you are in County Court and a prosecutor tells you that you have no idea what you're doing, remember that they were probably NOT EVEN BORN when we had our first gas crisis in the early 1970's.

ASLEEP AT THE SPIGOT

See You In Court, studying the Metro Rail map of Miami.

PS. Stop by the Federal Fight Blog and wish them a happy Third Birthday.

Friday, July 04, 2008

NEW DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE


When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.


We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.


The history of the present BUSH is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.


He has led this nation into war based solely on a lie.


He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.


He has forbidden the congress to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.


He has had his government spy on the people.


He has had his government stop, search, arrest, and detain people without cause or legal warrant.


He has formed secret prisons all over the world.


He has had his government agents torture people in violation of the law of these colonies, the law among nations, and common decency.


He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.


He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.


He has made judges dependent on his will alone; he has threatened judges, and he continually appoints judges who share his narrow view of freedom and rights.


He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.


He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.


He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.


For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:


For imposing taxes on us without our consent and running a deficit of hundreds of billions of dollars to pay for a war not supported by the people.


For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury.


For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.


We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the current tyrant Bush.

And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.
Rumpole notes, what is amazing is the content of the original text that over 230 years later still applies to the current tyrant.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

ELECTION UPDATE .....

Welcome to our 6th in a series of nine weekly reports breaking down the contested judicial elections in Miami-Dade County. In Week One, we focused on the only contested County Court race of Lindsay v. Lesperance. Since then, we have provided you with the Circuit Court races of Cueto v. Velis; Migna v. Manny and Colodny v. Kopco v. Millan and last week, Garcia v. Glick. As we reported on May 2, 2008 on this blog, there are nine contested races here in Miami-Dade County; eight in the Circuit Court and one in the County Court.

Today, it's Group 50, a seat currently held by retiring Judge Stuart Simons. Our goal will be to attempt to provide you with a weekly contest overview and then let you have at it and give us your opinions on why we should or should not vote for a certain candidate.

The candidates for Group 50 are Ricardo "Rick" Corona and Abby Cynamon.

RICARDO "RICK" CORONA .....

This is a campaign that has had lots of publicity over the course of the past couple of weeks. We do not want to rehash it all, but if you want to read what Rick had to say about all that has been written by the DBR and others, go back and review his front page post on this BLOG of June 22, 2008. I think Rick rightly pointed out that, The Florida Bar had the opportunity to thoroughly review all of the allegations and history of the FDIC charges that his father and brother were tied up in. The Bar gave Mr. corona a license to practice law.

Mr. Corona has been in several different occupations during his lifetime. Banking, supermarket owner, real estate developer are just some of the things he has accomplished in his career. Now he want to be a Circuit Court Judge. He filed in October of 2007 and has only reported raising $1,250 from three contributors and loaned his campaign an additional $16,000. He has a lot of catching up to do if he plans on matching his opponent dollar for dollar. Rick has been a member of The Florida Bar for 11 years.

We have been unable to locate a website for Mr. Corona's campaign.

ABBY CYNAMON ....

Ms. Cynamon has also had much written about her on this BLOG. She is a graduate of the UM Law School and has been an Assistant General Counsel for the 11th Judicial Circuit from 1993-2008. She was the President of FAWL from 2006-2007. Abby has been licensed for 18 years in Florida.

Ms. Cynamon is running this campaign and leaving nothing in the bag, so to speak. Her Campaign Treasurer is Hector Lombana. She has stormed the fundraising scene with $51,363 from 259 donors; (and that does not count what she has raised in the past three months as second quarter reports are due to be filed any day now). She also throw in $300,000 of her own money.

She has hired the entire hit list of campaign gurus: Susan Fried, Robert Levy, Armando Gutierrez and ?? have each been paid $11,000 so far. Tangela Sears has been paid an additional $4,500. In fact, Cynamon has spent over $100,00 already on the campaign.

You can read all about Abby on her website at abby4judge.com.

Please do your homework on the two candidates. Help out our readers by giving us your comments, pro and con, on each of the candidates.

The election takes place on Tuesday, August 26, 2008.

CAPTAIN OUT .........

DCBA JUDICIAL POLL RESULTS ......

Also, this week, the DCBA posted the results of their annual Bar Poll of the Judicial Candidates. We will not comment on the results of the non-elected candidates, but we do feel that it is important to comment on three TOP FIVE lists of the sitting judges.

EXCEPTIONALLY QUALIFIED:

1. Judge Emas - 70%
2. Judge Farina - 66%
3. Judge Robert Scola - 64%
4. Judge Reemberto Diaz - 60%
5. Judge Tam Wilson - 58%

UNQUALIFIED (lowest five):

1. Judge Schumacher - 4%
2. Judge Robert Scola - 4%
3. Judge Prescott - 4%
4. Judge Farina - 5%
5. Judge Emas - 5%

UNQUALIFIED (highest five):

1. Judge Esquiroz - 43%
2. Judge Jacqueline Schwartz - 36%
3. Judge Eig 30%
4. Judge Butchko - 30%
5. Judge Donner - 25%

These last five judges need to figure out what it is they are doing that is causing their ratings to be so low. Granted, there were only a small percentage of attorneys voting in this poll, but these numbers still represent the voices of anywhere from 400-900 practicing lawyers in this County. The people of Miami-Dade County deserve better.

As for the other two "top five" lists, those jurists are to be congratulated for being such fine public servants.

CAPTAIN OUT .....

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

UPS AND DOWNS

UPDATE AND BREAKING NEWS:
FEDERAL FRACAS!!!
FDC FIST-A-CUFFS!

BILL  "The Brawler" BARZEE 
vs.
 BENSON "First Punch" WEINTRAUB. 
Punches; headlocks. Read all about it on David Markus's Federal Fight Blog

Rumpole says: You know, we've often thought that there needed to be little more civility and professionalism in Federal Court. Like we have here in the REGJB. And this just proves our point. Perhaps like the Judges North of The Border, it's time for the Federal Lawyers to take a course in sensitivity training. 


And now....on with the show.

Regulars to the REGJB may have noticed that in the last few weeks at least one, and usually two escalators have been out of service. This has been going on much longer than the usual day or two it takes for the highly trained repair crews to fix an escalator. 

And now Rumpole knows why. 

In a Justice Building Blog Exclusive, we (at great personal expense and some personal risk) bring you the daily work schedule of the Otis Escalator repair crews:

9:45 Arrive at REGJB and look for parking

10:15 Park. 

10:20 Arrive at REGJB security line.

10:40 Clear security and enter building.

10:45 Begin work.

11:15 mid morning coffee break.

11: 30 Resume work.

12:15 Lunch Break

1:30 Return to REGJB. 

1:40 Clear security and begin work.

2:00 Crew meeting to discuss daily progress.

2:15 Resume work.

2:45 Mid afternoon coffee break.

3:15  Resume work. 

3:30 Fill out written reports on work progress.

3:45 Resume work.

4:00 10 minute personal break ( 1 per day. Union Rules).

4:10 Resume work.

4:30 End work for the day. 

There you have it folks. Our government contractors in action.

This is 100% true: Alert readers will have noticed that the escalator work crews have put up construction siding that contain this bit of information:
"United Technologies of Otis. First in Safety First in Service...
(and Rumpole adds) 
"Last in speed and efficiency."

Running up and down the stairs is fun. What we can't understand is how the chief judges have missed a golden opportunity: knowing that the escalators will be down, how have they managed not to schedule extra cases? Maybe a combined  traffic and felony blitz is just what we need in the heat of the summer to really have some fun. 

In any event we have it on good authority that the escalators will be repaired and fully functional by July 7.


July 7, 2009 that is.

See You In Court.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

THE CAPTAIN REPORTS:

.... AND IN THIS CORNER








For the defence: A distinguished member of The Florida Bar for the past 47 years, PARKER THOMSON. (Horace, you may have the "Clarence Clemons" of criminal law, but we've got the Clarence Darrow of the courthouse).

Barrister Thomson is a member of the international law firm of Hogan & Hartson, founded in Washington D.C. over 100 years ago, in 1904. Holland & Knight, his counterpart, has been around a measly 40 years and was founded in Tampa.

Thomson has extensive experience representing clients before the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals (11th Circuit), the Florida Supreme Court, and various state and U.S. federal courts throughout Florida. He has presented oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court in three cases and before the Florida Supreme Court in dozens of cases. How many cases has Rudy argued before SCOTUS: ZERO!!! (But, fail not State, according to our crack research staff, since leaving the bench, Sorondo has been invited to teach at the Conference of Circuit Court Judges and has even lectured at the Miami Dade State Attorney's Office).

According to our sources, the State already has its work cut out for them trying to get past the issue of Standing. And, if they manage to get past that large hurdle, the Supreme Court of Florida, in 1990, stated, in part: "when excessive caseload forces the public defender to choose between the rights of the various indigent criminal defendants he represents, a conflict of interest is inevitably created." The same Supreme Court also mentioned in a 1980 case involving these same issues, that, "the acceptance of additional cases where an existing caseload precludes adequate representation may subject an attorney to disciplinary action."

We could not have said it better than FACDL Prez Rick Freedman stated today: "The legislature's answer to this problem [the excessive workload] is to create more crimes with new statutes, increase penalties for existing crimes and spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build more prisons. All of this results in more defendants being arrested, more cases being filed and an exponentially higher chance that an innocent man's freedom will be taken from him. In order for every accused American to have competent and effective counsel, the second branch of our government must stop ignoring, at budget time, the third branch."

Horace, pack in it and join the good guys on this fight. Stick a fork in it cause the State Attorney's Office is "done" in this battle.

CAPTAIN OUT .....